The Enchanted Duplicator

by Walter Willis and Bob Shaw

Chapter 4

In Which Jophan Meets A Traveller From Fandom

Jophan had been weakened both in mind and body by the drugs he had imbibed in the cave, and he found the going very difficult. The path became steeper and stee-per, and one by one he had to abandon all the possession he had brought with him. Even so, by evening he was so tired that he had to rest on a ledge to regain his strength. Below him he could see the path winding down into the Region of Fog, strewn with his cherished possessions. Further down the green Forest of Stupidity was spread out below him, and beyond it the peaceful Country of Mundane basked in the light of the setting sun. Shivering with cold as he was, for the mountains of Inertia screened the sunlight from him, Jophan found the prospect enticing and it came to him how easy it would be to retrace his steps down the slope, gather up his possessions, and return to the placid life of Mundane.

While he was musing thus he heard a terrible sound above his head, and cowered into the shelter of the ledge just in time to escape a deadly landslide of rocks and loose stones. Behind them down the path there slithered and stumbled the highest horse Jophan had ever seen, and on his back an angry little man, pulling at the reins and swearing continually. Every now and then the horse dislodged another stone which clattered down the mountainside, awakening a fresh landslide.

"Pardon me," said Jophan, "but you really should be more careful. You might injure some of the other pilgrims on the path."

"Serve them right," snarled the little man, without dismounting from his high horse. "My name is Disillusion -- the Disillusion, y'know. Who are you?"

"My name is Jophan," said Jophan, "and I am on my way to Fandom to produce the Perfect Fanzine, for that is what I want to do more than anything else in the world."

"More fool you," sneered the other. "Only a fool would want to enter that place."

"Why, what's wrong with it?"

"What's wrong with it?" repeated Disillusion incredulously. "Why, everything's wrong with it! They're either stupid or mad, every one of them. Why, they didn't even come out to greet me when I arrived -- me, mind you! At first they even pretended not to see me until I got down off my horse, and when they did speak to me I couldn't understand a word they were saying. And their customs! I've never seen anything like them."

"Well, after all," said Jophan, "it is a different country. Maybe if you had tried to learn their language . . ."

"Nonsense!" snapped Disillusion. "They were just trying to keep things from me and laughing behind my back. Well, they can have their secrets. I don't want to have anything to do with them. They were all against me, I tell you. Imagine, not even thanking me for entering Fandom after all I tried to teach them . . ."

Speechless with indignation, he spurred the horse on again and vanished down the path. Jophan though he was the most conceited and self-centred person he had ever met, but nevertheless the encounter refreshed him. It seemed to him that the dislike of such a person was a very good recommendation for Fandom. With this new vigour he set off again on his journey and by nightfall he had reached a point from which he thought he should be able to reach the summit tomorrow. Happy in the prospect of seeing Fandom so soon, he curled up in a little cave and went to sleep. -

This version is from GHUTENBERG'S BHIBLE -- Section 7-b (Appendix B) -- Copyright © 1994 by Greg Hills. All rights reserved.

All rights to the original material is retained by the authors.